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Native American Culture Festival kicks off Friday

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- If you've noticed the tepees erected at various locations around town and thought it must be time for the Native American Culture Festival, you'd be correct.

The celebration of Native American culture gets under way Friday at Chehaw Park and runs through Sunday.

The festival incorporates interactive exhibits, authentic Native American presentations and vendors who sell replicas of Native American artifacts.

"We are excited about this year's festival," NACF Director Ben Kirkland said. "We have many new demonstrators, including some new dancers. We've also added a wildlife component with 'Okefenokee Joe,' who fits in quite well with our cultural theme."

According to his Web site, "Okefenokee Joe and his snakes are now staples of school shows around the South. He and his critters are an even bigger draw at a more comfortable distance, on Georgia Public Television and public television affiliates around the country."

The festival will begin when the park opens its gates at 9:30 Friday morning, and special "School Day" events will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day. The park's gates will also open at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will remain open until 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday.

Entrance into the festival is included in the park's regular admission price, so guests will also be able to visit the animals and attend the festival.

This year's demonstrators will cover the differing cultures of Native Americans from all over the country including Cherokee, Mohawks, Creek, Plains Indians and many more.

Exhibition dancers and drummers will also be presenting Native American dance that has been passed down through the generations.

Others will be demonstrating flint knapping (the art of stone tool chipping), fire by friction, deer-hide tanning, pottery making, pine-needle basket weaving, story-telling, twine bag making, flute music and drums, in addition to other skills.

Vendors will be selling silver and turquoise jewelry, hand-painted drums, beadwork, clothing, reproductions of Native American artifacts, knives and more.

"We are really excited about our vendors," Kirkland said. "They will be offering some high-quality merchandise. You'll also be able to try an elk or bison burger if you'd like.

"There will be a lot of good folks out here this weekend. It should be great fun for everybody."